Have you noticed that the Pride Flag has expanded its colors? Didn’t the original rainbow motif cover everybody? No, it did not. Unless you are intentionally invited to take a seat at the table, you are only an outsider. The new and expanded Pride Flag includes the pink, blue and white colors for the trans and gender non-conforming community and black and brown colors to include Black and Brown lives that are a constant target of injustice and brutality.
The year 2020, and continuing into this year, has created a heavy load in the lives of many that I call it the four “P’s” – pandemic, politics, policing/protesting, and personal. All of us have been impacted by the coronavirus and most certainly through watching the political circus that culminated on January 6 at our nation’s Capital; heartbroken at the violence and death of too many Black citizens and the crisis at our country’s border. Everyone had something personal going on that left a burden.
But, within the dark cloud of the 4 “P’s” was the silver lining that opened our eyes to the struggles and pain of our neighbors and strangers. Sure, this time period made many retreat in fear and be concerned only what happened inside their four walls. But for others, the events of the past year not only expanded their vision, but their concern and actions for others.
In this second year of celebrating Pride Month in socially distant ways, a coalition of equality organizations have banded together to create “The Colors of Pride” as a way of focusing on the intersectional equality of queerness, racial justice, and religious identity. National organizations like the National LGBTQ Task Force and local organizations like Inclusive Justice of Michigan are offering activities focused on the liberation of people targeted by unjust legislation, public polices, and harmful policing practices.
By incorporating the religious community in these activities, they are acknowledging that many people hide behind their religious convictions as reason for opposing the LGBTQ+ community. Either “quasi” religious conviction or religious silence has led to legislation that blocks the safety and support of women, the LGBTQ+ community in general, and the trans and gender non-conforming community specifically, as well as Black and Brown lives.
“The Colors of Pride” is an opportunity for clergy and congregations to take a public stand for intersectional equality by engaging in activities such as adding their name to a national list to support equality legislation or participating in trainings to learn how to engage their representatives on these important issues. The Colors of Pride Week of Action commences on Monday, June 14 and concludes on Saturday, June 19 with a national commemoration of Juneteenth – the emancipation of enslaved Americans in 1865. This Juneteenth commemoration will connect to the liberation of Black and Brown lives today.
The goal is to create opportunities for allyship with the queer community, Black and Brown communities, and congregations by engaging religious communities nationwide to participate in pro-equality actions during Pride month.
This is one way of expanding the focus of Pride beyond the parades and festivals to action that will improve the lives of others in our ever-expanding community. This is taking Pride outside of the box for intersectional equality.
Rev. Dr. Roland Stringfellow is the Board President of Inclusive Justice of Michigan, a staff member of The Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion, and the Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit.